UK Football

Petrino has Hogs, not horses

Pop in an Arkansas tape, and you'll notice that Bobby Petrino is pretty much running the same offensive system from his days at Louisville.

You'll also notice that Petrino doesn't have Michael Bush and Brian Brohm in his backfield and Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia split wide.

That fact was painfully evident in some of Arkansas' early games. In a three-game stretch against top-5 teams Alabama, Texas and Florida, the Hogs' offense found the end zone just three times.

But the light slowly but surely seems to be coming on for Petrino's Arkansas offense. In last week's stunning 25-22 win at Auburn, the Hogs rolled up 416 yards on a Tiger defense that had been considered one of the nation's best. Arkansas' total yardage was 18 more than what Louisiana State was able to generate in a 26-21 win over Auburn on Sept. 20.

Junior running back Michael Smith burst through the Auburn defense for 176 yards on a whopping 35 carries.

"They're doing a lot of similar things that they did at Louisville," UK Coach Rich Brooks said. "You can see a lot of the same philosophies."

And while the Hogs still aren't anywhere near as potent as Petrino's Louisville teams, Brooks says Arkansas will provide a test for his highly ranked defense.

Petrino, who built his reputation on developing quarterbacks, is getting the most out of senior Casey Dick. Last year, with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in the backfield, Dick threw for an average of 130.4 yards per game. That average is up to 235.2 this year.

"Schematically, they've got an extremely well-designed passing game," Brooks said. "Dick is throwing it better than he's ever thrown it in his career."

Dick is also starting to show some poise, something that he didn't seem to have early in his career or even early this season. Dick threw two second-quarter interceptions against Auburn that led to a pair of field goals, but he was virtually flawless in the second half and finished with 222 passing yards.

"That's a key to being a quarterback, whether you do something really good or make a mistake, that you can put that behind you," Petrino said. "I have had quarterbacks that make a mistake and put their head down so that the next play they are not as good. I also have had a quarterback one time that wanted to cheer and yell and scream when he did something good and then the next three plays he wasn't very good. That was a huge step the other day, the poise and being able to be in a hard-fought game and continue to do everything right and take care of the ball.

An alarming statistic for the Hogs: They've given up 21 sacks, which is next to last in the Southeastern Conference. UK, meanwhile, is second in the league in sacks with 16.

But don't expect the Wildcats to come all out after Dick with fancy blitz packages. UK defensive coordinator Steve Brown said irresponsible blitzing can open lanes like the one Smith found on a 63-yard touchdown run at Alabama. Expect the Cats to do what they've done for most of the season and try to apply pressure with their front four while mixing in an occasional blitz.

"The most important thing is to not blitz just for the sake of blitzing," Brown said. "It's more about finding a flaw in the pass protection and utilizing it. The timing has to be right. We just play good technique and sound defense, because if you blitz and that guy (Smith) gets a crease, he's gone."

Petrino said he's impressed with how far the Kentucky defense has come since he was at Louisville.

"They have done an excellent job in recruiting and developing their players," Petrino said. "You look at their defensive front, we coached against a lot of those guys when they were youngsters. The way they have developed physically and the knowledge of the game, (Brooks) has done an excellent job there."

Lindley's mid-season honor

UK cornerback Trevard Lindley was named a mid-season first-team All-American by Lindley leads the SEC in pass breakups with 10 and is tied for second in interceptions with three. He had a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown in UK's 24-17 loss at South Carolina last Saturday. Kentucky defensive tackle Myron Pryor was an honorable mention selection.

Dixon hampered by ankle

Senior running back Tony Dixon has missed the past two days of practice with an ankle injury and will be available on a limited basis against Arkansas.